The diversity of Florida Baptists was celebrated during the 2016 Florida Baptist State Convention in Clearwater as three fellowship meetings embraced unique language and cultural expressions of faith. Each fellowship included inspirational music, biblical messages, announcements, a fellowship meal and greetings from Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer.
Hispanic Baptist State Fellowship
Approximately 175 people gathered for the Hispanic Baptist State Fellowship, where “a united spirit of cooperation and collaboration” prevailed, said Emanuel Roque, Florida Baptists’ Hispanic catalyst.
Speakers included Ernesto Humeniuk, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Vida en Cristo in Miami, and Hugo Redmond, Hispanic pastor at First Baptist Church of Panama City. Eloy Rodriguez, pastor, Idlewild Baptist Church, Espanol, Tampa, brought a worship team for the event. Outgoing Hispanic State Fellowship President Israel Cordoves, pastor from Iglesia Bautista Hispana de West Palm Beach, presided over the meeting.
The Hispanic State Fellowship of churches elected new officers with Carlos Tellez, pastor, Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Coral Park in Miami, as new president.
“Pastor Tellez, with a group of 10 officers, will promote, equip and assist in a united Hispanic church work across this state with multiple local Hispanic fellowships in the regions and associations,” said Roque.
New resources in Spanish were introduced, along with the launch of a Spanish webpage on the Florida Baptist website (www.flbaptist.org/espanol). The webpage will communicate what churches are doing as well as upcoming opportunities and resources for Hispanic churches.
Black Multicultural State Fellowship
Approximately 150 people representing Florida Baptists’ black and multicultural churches gathered for a time of “networking, fellowship, encouragement and to strengthen each other as we partner together through our local churches to reach our great state,” said Patrick Coats, Florida Baptists’ black multicultural consultant.
Speakers included Fredd Hinson, pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Hudson, who preached that “selflessness produces unity in the body of Christ,” said Coats. The New Philadelphia Ministries choir from St. Petersburg led worship. Jeffery Singletary, the Convention’s Central Florida regional catalyst, served as master of ceremonies, and Sherard Burns, pastor of Renewing Life Church in Miami, also participated. LifeWay’s Charles Grant presented new ministry resources.
“This year has been an incredible year of great partnerships, ministry training and revival in our churches,” said Coats.
Haitian Baptist State Fellowship
Approximately 175 Haitian pastors and church members, representing about 50 Haitian Florida Baptist churches from throughout the state, came together at the Haitian Baptist State Fellowship for a “great time of worship, exhortation and fellowship,” said John Voltaire, Haitian catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention.
Attendees heard an update from Delouis Labranche, director of Confraternite Missionnaire Baptiste d’Haiti, about widespread destruction and devastation in the southern and northwest tip of Haiti from the recent category 4 hurricane that besieged the island. “Pastors were encouraged to work together to help the churches damaged by the hurricane,” said Voltaire and were challenged to raise $50,000 to aid in recovery and relief efforts.
“The Haitians were very grateful for the Florida Baptist response in Haiti,” said Voltaire.
Samuel Louis-Jean, pastor of Haitian Calvary Baptist Church in Middleburg, preached; and longtime Haitian Baptist leader Renaud Balzora spoke about the importance of Cooperative Program giving. Worship was led by a choir from various Haitian churches in the Tampa area.
“We are looking forward to the 2017 Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting in Miami, where a large number of our churches are ministering to their communities,” Voltaire said.